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Bulgaria - Summer of Chess
From the organisers of the European Senior Championships to be held in Plovdiv in March -

You have a nice opportunity to visit Bulgaria this summer as we have chain of tournaments -Bulgarian Chess Summer in one of the best Black sea resorts and very attractive prize funds.

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Best regards,
Central Office
ESCC 2013

Incidentally five of our senior players are registered for the Euro Seniors.

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LOL, will Borislav Ivanov be playing?
Graham Kerr Wrote:LOL, will Borislav Ivanov be playing?

Was Borislav Ivanov ever playing? ;P
You still think he was cheating?
"How sad to see, what used to be, a model of decorum and tranquility become like any other sport, a battleground for rival ideologies to slug it out with glee"
Absolutely. No doubt whatsoever. We just don't know the method he is using. I would refuse to play him if I was paired with him, as apparently one of his GM opponents did in Spain recently.
Absolutely no doubt about it. I have conducted analysis on his games, i've pasted below what i posted on another forum...

I carried out a standard 3-line analysis using Houdini 3 at 25 ply. I arrived at 25 ply because of the time controls, it would be around that point that a decent modern laptop could generate the analysis in that time.
Opening moves are excluded from the analysis, they are considered theory, so are ignored for this purpose.
Borislav Ivanov's performance in the whole of the Zadar tournament looks like this:-
Analysis Houdini 3 Pro x64, 1024 hash, 25 ply:-
{Top 1 match: 222/294 (75.5%)}
{Top 2 match: 251/294 (85.4%)}
{Top 3 match: 268/294 (91.2%)}

Similar analysis carried out on Magnus Carlsen's performance at the 75th Tata Steel:-
{Top 1 match: 311/512 (60.7%)}
{Top 2 match: 404/512 (78.9%)}
{Top 3 match: 443/512 (86.5%)}.
So he out-performed Carlsen by quite some margin, but let's take a look at Ivanov's performance in closer detail...
In round 8 the broadcast was removed, when suspicions were raised about his performance. He couldn't have cheated in this round, and went on to lose it.
In round 2 there was undoubtedly time-pressure issues, but without actually witnessing the game myself, i can only guess as to how much that played a part. The analysied moves from round 2, because it was such a long game, make up 36% of the total from the tournament. If we remove rounds 2 and 8 from the analysis, the figures are thus:-
{Top 1 match: 140/165 (84.8%)}
{Top 2 match: 152/165 (92.1%)}
{Top 3 match: 159/165 (96.4%)}.

Now, i know there will still be one or two of you who are still not convinced by this, i decided to take a closer look at the moves where Ivanov didn't make Houdini's first choice move.
I found that the moves he made were often in fact the top choice for Houdini when viewed at a different ply from my original analysis, in all cases, within just a few ply.
With rounds 2 and 8 removed (i saw no need to look at these games for this purpose), the figures are:-
{Top 1 match: 158/165 (95.8%)}
{Top 2 match: 159/165 (96.4%)}
{Top 3 match: 161/165 (97.6%)}.
Anyone who still doesn't believe he was cheating is just naive.
My analysis, where it met the threshold, and where it hasn't since been superseded, is stored on the Fritz cloud. I have also uploaded a small database (48kb) containing all the games and stored analysis for anyone who wants to check it here:- <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=""></a><!-- m -->
Well, he's been banned now...
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Thanks for this Graham.

On out-performing Carlsen…Carlsen would surely not be a good choice for such a comparison - going by ratings, he is the most likely player to either play stronger than top computer programs, or play as well but by playing in a different way from them. So while playing much less strongly than Carlsen, another player could ‘out-perform’ him at the (different) game of matching program moves. As Alan Jelfs said, the right comparison would be with other players of the strength at which Ivanov is accused of achieving by cheating.

“Anyone who still doesn't believe he was cheating is just naive.”

I personally think the chances are he was cheating, but you need objectivity to take precipitate action, and anyone claiming 100% certainty despite there being uncertainty is not being objective. The accusation is of electronic cheating, but the ‘evidence’ only relates to the weaker hypothesis that it is unlikely a 2200-rated player could have achieved such a strong match with computer moves if playing normally. Most of the debate then centres round this part of the story as if it were the smoking gun itself. True, the analysis of the computer matches is compelling. Even this part is not objectively overwhelming though, because the fit between theory and evidence isn’t completely uniform and needs explanations for where the evidence doesn’t fit the theory.

In your analysis Graham you don’t say why it is justified to remove the second game? More generally, it’s quite difficult to produce objective analysis, including ‘explanations’, if you have a prior belief in guilt – such analysis usually reads like the case for the prosecution. For example, in his video presentation <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=""> ... r_embedded</a><!-- m -->, Valeri Lilov says things like ‘this is a computer move’, ‘this is not a human move’, which suggest a prior disposition. Of the people Ivanov lost to he says something like ‘not only were they 1900s but they were kids’, temporarily forgetting the concept of junior additions! It’s not that he doesn’t make a ‘good’ case but that’s the point, it’s a case AGAINST someone - it should not be treated as if it were an objective evaluation. Also the more subjective explanations that are required (even if they are compelling), the less the theory can be claimed to be objectively robust.

Evidence of cheating method is lacking. Mike Scott made an excellent point regarding the Sally Clark case in which a physical crime was inferred from medical/statistical evidence – evidence that was found to be statistically wrong. But even if the statistical calculation had been correct, the medical ‘evidence’ that a child had been murdered was non-existent. It’s sobering that a courtroom of educated people had still accepted obviously flawed logic – i.e. that if the probability of something happening ‘by chance’ was small enough, then something else in particular can be relied upon to have happened. Ironically, the legal world has an expression for this – it’s called a non sequitur, or ‘it doesn’t follow’. The ‘something else’ was not the only possible explanation – the technical experts were guilty of failing to recognize the limitations of their own knowledge, and were actually just speculating outside it.

Going back to Ivanov, what other explanations are possible? Well maybe for example, Ivanov is bipolar and can only play half the time. Just saying…also we haven’t heard much from him. There’s a rather uninformative interview here <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=""></a><!-- m --> but with not very searching questions.

I think it would have been best to let the clock run a bit more on this ‘difficult position’. Rather than refusals to play and ostracism that are damaging to the game, isn’t the best action simply to not transmit his games while he is under suspicion, or to transmit them with a delay, and see what develops?

This suggestion is also the action that closely matches the evidence for the accusation – which relies heavily on the explanation that when the transmission stopped, his strength stopped too. This means that if he was cheating, he was relying on the transmission of the moves from the tournament. It is also by far the easiest way to cheat – in fact it may require no technical activity at all from the cheater, just an accomplice and a means to signal moves.

Trouble is, with the ban we’ll not get any more evidence now!
DNA evidence is used in court to convict people of murder. Why? The probability of DNA evidence being wrong is so incredibly remote that if we didn't consider it conclusive then we couldn't really conceivably consider anything conclusive. The odds of Ivanov matching the computer to the extent that he did are similarly remote. Coupled with the circumstantial evidence of his performance dropping significantly when the live broadcast stopped, we are presented with an even stronger case.

Ivanov was cheating, it really is as simple and obvious as that. Big Grin
Walter, the round 2 game was removed because of time pressure issues, that game went on for 118 moves, and without actually witnessing the game for myself, i couldn't say to what extent those time pressures affected his play. It is likely that his accomplice's computer wouldn't calculate to a similar depth as in other games, and hence he made the same mistakes as Houdini 3 in that game.
I'm not aware of GM Jovanovic making any comment about that game (professional courtesy?), but i would hazard a guess (and a small wager) that he was on to him right from the start. The closed position and minor piece endgame are both known to be weaknesses in engines, even the best ones. You're a much stronger player than i am, you'll know this more than me.

I remember reading the Chessbase interview a while back, i think it was actually conducted by WhyChess magazine. It was clearly an interview designed to lead him up the garden path. His comments about beating Houdini 10-0 were laughable, especially when he plays the same moves.

I had said earlier in the forum post from where i copy/pasted the above post, (Lilov's blog) that if he wasn't banned, i feared that TDs would have a dilemma whether to accept his entry, and that i hoped we never got to the stage where his opponents refused to play him, or people withdrew from tournaments where he had entered. Andrew Burnett's comments above are not unique, many players have stated that they would also refuse to play him. I don't know if this is the reason why the Bulgarian Chess Federation have now acted. I should clarify though that this is a 4 month disqualification, one can only presume that they are to further investigate...

The comparison with Carlsen's performance at Tata (where he dished out a royal whooping to a top class field!) is merely to illustrate to people who have no experience of what percentage of match up is likely from a strong player. It wasn't intended to be the most accurate of comparisons. I do agree that a fairer comparison would be with players of a similar strength, but players of that strength do make mistakes, or less accurate moves, and also miss technical points that a Master would recognise. The gap between Ivanov's performance to that of someone of a similar strength would be even larger.

IMHO there is no need for 100% certainty. Some people are arguing this point, some others are arguing "beyond reasonable doubt", and some others are suggesting "on the balance of probabilities". All are standards set by different types of court. Andrew McHarg mentions DNA evidence in court. A match up rate as high as Ivanov's in this tournament is at least as good as DNA probabilities so far as i am concerned, leading me to believe beyond reasonable doubt that his moves were indeed made by Houdini 3.

There are only 2 questions left to be answered, who his accomplice was and how the moves were transmitted between them. Someone has even suggested X-raying his skull!

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